When planning your content strategy, brand monitoring may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But in actual fact, brand monitoring is an essential part of a sophisticated - and successful - content strategy. It’s the cornerstone of great brands who care about their audience, and should be at the heart of your marketing strategy. Read on to find out how (and why) brand monitoring is so essential for your brand strategy.
Jump in on conversations
In an age where most of the world is online, it’s inevitable that your brand name will come up on forums, blogs, and social media in various different of contexts: some negative, some positive, and some neutral.
Whatever the context, it’s important that you monitor and respond to these mentions. By using brand monitoring tools (many of them free and quick to set up with custom tracking), you can jump in on conversations as they develop. You’ll surely find plenty of positive mentions about your brand, so thank them for their kind words. This will go a long way towards improving your brand image.
But other common mentions include recommendations or reviews of your product or service. These are fine to respond to, but avoid the hard sell - provide real social proof to back up your claims.
For example, say you’re selling a SaaS product such as an email automation tool. There are plenty of comparison guides or tech review sites available to support your own claims about your brand.
As you monitor your online mentions, track what other competing tools and services come up in conjunction with yours, particularly in those seeking reviews or recommendations. Identify the most common mentions and create a comparison table or user guide to position your brand as the go-to in your niche. Don’t just focus on your own sales funnel - think about the customer journey as a whole.
Of course, you’ll find plenty of negative comments or reviews online too. But don’t panic - this is just part of being a brand. Message them privately and assure them that their concerns are valid. Be politely and gracefully, but try to de-escalate the public conversation.
A wrong step at this stage could prove disastrous for your brand’s image. But when handled right, negative feedback can actually provide you with some great content.
Use their sentiment as a jumping-off point for a blog series that candidly and honestly addresses consumer concerns. Not only will this give you plenty of unique, engaging content, but it’ll give your PR a considerable boost too.
Brand perception should be one of your KPIs
As consumers, we’ve all experienced a poor brand experience. A tepid blog post, an awkward post on social media, an unsatisfactory exchange with a customer service team - it happens to all of us.
In a world where social proof can make or break a business, marketers should prioritize brand sentiment and perception above all else. With social media letting negative social proof go viral within minutes, brand trust can be quickly lost online - and hard to claw back.
But brand monitoring lets you take control of the digital conversation and head off any issues at the pass. A strong brand monitoring strategy is proactive, not reactive.
Reaching out to journalists is a great way to enhance brand perception. By building strong relationships with individuals publishing content around your niche, you can shape the conversations that people have online in a way that is organic.
Let them know your brand is always willing to provide comment on industry news in return for some positive coverage, creating a quid pro quo relationship that benefits each of you. Plus, it’s also useful to have a friendly journo on your side if and when a media storm breaks out.
Create a strong press and media page for your website and encourage journalists (and indeed, the general public) to reach out to you. A strong media strategy will help foster positive brand engagement online, letting you steer conversations as they happen.
Focus on what matters the most
At some point in our lives, we all secretly wish we knew what people thought of us, and brand monitoring is your chance to make that happen. Brand monitoring is an opportunity to be a fly on the wall and find out what people are really saying about you, mining for exclusive insights you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to.
But it’s not just good for existing businesses who are knee-deep in their own content strategies - it’s also a good source of commercial information on brand viability. Brand data mining is particularly vital for owners looking to invest in a new business, or indeed anyone preparing their own exit strategy. With so many Texan businesses for sale from Dallas to Houston, the ones with the best prospects in terms of profitability and longevity are the ones who have invested in their brand reputation(s) with a long-term view. PR pieces, community outreach, social media damage control, customer service wins, positive reviews - all these content types are essential for building a business that will stand the test of time.
When evaluating a brand, a deep understanding of customer and brand sentiment will be crucial. For example, perhaps your business has a history of negative mentions on social media - this will help indicate problem areas that need addressing ASAP. Be open and available to developing brand conversations, and you will in turn increase the asset value of your brand itself.
Brand monitoring is a commercially vital exercise that should underpin marketing efforts for your business, whether new or existing. Approach it diligently with a critical eye, and you’ll craft a successful content strategy that really delivers for your brand.
Patrick Foster is an editor at Ecommerce Tips, a regular blog that shares insights into ecommerce, marketing, design, and more. To read the latest advice and lessons for ecommerce entrepreneurs, find him on Twitter @myecommercetips.